Waratah Nick Phipps warns ruck supremacy the Rebels' new cause

The Rebels might think they have their hands on the blueprint to beat the Waratahs but NSW have their own inside man.

Nick Phipps, a foundation member of the Melbourne franchise who signed with NSW after learning Luke Burgess was on then-coach Damien Hill's radar, has learnt his old teammates are putting serious hours into contact work in the pursuit of supremacy at the ruck.

"Talking to a few of the boys, they do contact every day, which has its good and its bad traits, but they've worked really hard on that," Phipps said.

"Our breakdown got battered a bit down there at that trial [game in February], we know they'll be hard on the ball and the [NSW] boys will be firing up after that last game for some redemption down there."

The Rebels have a strong recent record against the Waratahs, having won back the Weary Dunlop Shield last season in a 24-22 thriller at AAMI Park. The Waratahs were also victims of the Melbourne side's perfect pre-season run, going down 33-28 in Albury in February.

New coach Tony McGahan has overhauled the squad to produce the beginnings of an abrasive and successful new style characterised by tough back-rowers Scott Higginbotham and Sean McMahon and powerful backs such as Tamati Ellison and Tom English.

"Their backs are running a lot more direct lines, trying to run blind and keep the breakdown on the ball and they're always attacking, playing quick taps and quick lineouts," Phipps said.

"They had a good game [first up against the Cheetahs], then lost to the Force pretty convincingly, then last week [against the Crusaders] they were in it until about the 60th or 70th minute, so they'll be looking forward to travelling to Sydney . . . They'll be confident and stinging to have a crack at us."

This story Waratah Nick Phipps warns ruck supremacy the Rebels' new cause first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.